"And forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us." How often do those words roll off my lips with no regard for what I'm really asking God to do? I'm asking Him to forgive me in the same way that I forgive those who hurt me. Wow! That makes me stop and think, "How do I forgive those who hurt me?" But, hold on... that's different then, right? People really hurt me, I don't really hurt God. Do I?
St. Augustine tells us that "God thirsts that we might thirst for Him." That is a strong statement. He could have said "God longs that we might long for Him," but he didn't, he said, "God thirsts." Thirst indicates a life sustaining desire, a deep internal yearning that leads us to what is needed to survive. And God thirsts that I might thirst for Him, because I am created by God, and for God. It's a hard concept for my finite mind to grasp, that God created me for Himself and He never ceases to draw me toward Him. Yet, when I sin, I am turning away from God. I am quenching that thirst with the sin, or the pleasure of the sin, and in essence no longer longing for Him, but for the things of this world that will allot me only temporary happiness.
If I would thirst that someone might thirst for me, how devastated would I be if that person turned away from me? How hard would it be to forgive that person for the pain they caused me by their denial? I thought about that in today's Gospel about the Prodigal Son, and the one thing that hit me in that reading was, "While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him..." And, it struck me that the reason the father caught sight of him while he was still a long way off, was because the father thirsted that his son might thirst for him. And when the son did indeed "thirst" for the father, the father rejoiced.
Next time I have to forgive someone who has hurt me deeply, I am going to remember to rejoice in that forgiveness, not to merely utter the words, "I forgive you" without meaning... and I am going to feel much more confident as I say, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."